Episode Title: The Joke’s on Catwoman
Original Airdate: January 4, 1968
In our last episode we had a less than satisfying team up between Cesar Romero’s Joker and Eartha Kitt’s Catwoman. It was a convoluted plot involving stealing a pair of pajamas and a baby’s cradle to learn the location of some gun powder that’s been hidden for 200 years. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Let’s see if things get any better in part two of the story, the first episode to air in 1968, The Joke’s on Catwoman.
As we begin, the villains are lying in wait outside the mansion of Karnaby Katz. When the heroes emerge, Batman and Robin climb into the Batmobile and head off. Batgirl, however has a problem starting her Batgirlcycle. Makes sense since Catwoman swiped a sparkplug. The villains then tie Batgirl up in some special wire which contracts when it comes into contact with body heat. Batgirl is doomed to be strangled. However, after the crooks leave, Batgirl manages to roll over to the on/off switch for the lawn sprinklers. The water causes the wire to expand and Batgirl frees herself.
Back at the villains’ lair, they use the pajamas and the cradle to learn where to go to find the gunpowder. Don’t ask me to explain it all, it just made my brain hurt. Meanwhile, Batgirl has told the dynamic duo where the villains’ lair is. Then the three heroes all meet up and start tracing Catwoman’s Cat-car.
Catwoman and Joker end up at a lighthouse and find the gunpowder hidden inside a secret room. The heroes then show up just as they see Joker do something stupid. He tries to examine the print on the barrels of gunpowder by using a match. He then accidentally ignites the powder. Lucky for everyone, Batman uses some Anti Blast Bat Powder to keep them all from being blown up.
Now, the bad guys are caught, but Catwoman convinces Batman to grant her her prison phone call. She’s not in prison yet, but whatever. He even gives her a dime to use. She calls her shifty lawyer Lucky Pierre. Next thing we know, this episode shifts into a courtroom drama. All the various characters from both this episode and the last are brought in, with Batman serving as the prosecuting attorney. Strangely, the jury determines the two crooks are not guilty. However, when it is revealed that one of the jurors is wearing a false moustache, the Dynamic Duo realize that the whole jury is made up of former cohorts of the two villains. The final fight then breaks out and all the criminals are locked up.
Well, this episode certainly lives up to its predecessor, which is to say it’s not very good. Once again, the story gets so convoluted and confusing that it becomes very easy for the viewer to just tune out. The explanations of the map on the nightshirt, and the instructions on the cradle (written backwards and in french) are just plain stupid. Even more stupid is that when we finally get to the discovery of the gunpowder we’ve been hearing so much about over the last two episodes, Joker accidentally blows it all up. The villains don’t even get to use it to commit a crime! Then things instantly switch over to Perry Mason Gotham City style! It’s one of the strangest story shifts this series has ever seen.
There are a few silly moments that make this episode at least somewhat bearable. The strange bickering couple that run the Gotham City lighthouse have a weird sequence as Joker and Catwoman show up to steal the goods. I also got a bit of a kick out of Batman playing the role of a prosecuting attorney. He runs through the list of charges against Catwoman and Joker which includes stuff like attempted murder, mayhem, assault AND battery…oh, and overtime parking. There’s also a strange moment after the villains are captured for good when Batman stares directly into the camera and speechafies about how “morals are the stuff men are made of.”
So, things continue to be pretty lackluster here in season three, despite having two iconic villains. Speaking of that, we should mention that after being featured in just two stories, this is the final appearance of Eartha Kitt’s Catwoman. Though I really enjoy her portrayal of the character, it’s a shame that the material she was given wasn’t of higher quality. Will things improve next time, though? Well, our villain teaser this time has Barbara Gordon running into none other than Louie the Lilac at the Gotham City Library. Milton Berle returns for next week’s episode Louie’s Lethal Lilac Time. Same bat-time, same bat-channel (superhero).
Bat Gadgets Used:
Anti Blast Bat Powder
Holy Return from Oblivion